AN equestrian centre in the Swindon area received a five-star riding school licence after meeting the highest possible standards of animal welfare.

Wiltshire Council inspected Rein and Shine Equestrian Centre near Purton earlier this year and later awarded the centre its new licence in line with new regulations.

The council were so confident in the centre’s processes that they have granted the licence for three years.

Owners John and Johanna McDonald were thrilled to receive the top-tier rating.

Johanna said: "This award is most important to us as it’s all about top animal welfare. It’s not just what you see when you are here, it's also about what you don't see.

"The quality of grazing for the horses, their medical care, feed plans, exercise plans, living conditions and so on. John and I are extremely proud to have achieved 5-stars.

"When choosing where you ride surely you will pick a place where the animal welfare has been graded as the best - cheap riding doesn't mean better horse welfare.”

This licence makes Rein and Shine the first five-star riding school in north Wiltshire.

The centre's council-led inspection followed the new Animal Welfare Regulations 2018 coming into force which introduced a new system of local authority licensing for activities involving animals in England.

The new laws specifically updated the licensing system for horse riding establishments.

The regulations set out a framework for local authorities to follow when considering licensing applications and the conditions that must be met.

Many riding centres have been unable to meet the terms of the new act and have closed but Rein and Shine met all conditions to the best possible standard.

These included areas like licence display, records, staffing, suitable environment, suitable diet, monitoring of behaviour and training of animals, and use, number and type of animal,

Other key categories ranged from animal handling and interactions to protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease to dealing with emergencies.

To receive a licence, business must meet all the minimum standards outlined.